English News: New Zealand Becomes the Latest Country to Crack Down on Disposable Vapes

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After scrapping a plan several months ago to ban people born after 2008 from buying tobacco cigarettes, the New Zealand government on Wednesday announced a total ban on single-use e-cigarettes—also known as disposable vapes—and said it will increase the fines on retailers selling cigarettes and vapes to those under 18, in the country’s latest approach to discourage smoking among youth.

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“The rapid rise in youth vaping has been a real concern for parents, teachers, and health professionals,” Associate Health Minister Casey Costello said when announcing the changes to New Zealand’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act. She added that reusable vapes would remain available for adults as they are “a key smoking cessation device” but that too many teenagers use disposable vapes because “they’re cheap and remain too easy to get.”

Costello said the New Zealand government is “committed to tackling youth vaping and to continue to drive down smoking rates to achieve the Smokefree goal of less than 5% of the population smoking daily by 2025.” As of last year, she said, 6.8% of the population smoked daily.

Under the new rules, fines for retailers caught selling regulated products like vapes and cigarettes to minors would be increased from NZ$10,000 (about $6,000) to NZ$100,000 ($60,000). Costello said the New Zealand Cabinet also reconfirmed a range of additional smoking-related regulations set to take effect on March 21, including “a ban on vaping products with images of cartoons or toys on the packaging, and limiting flavor names to generic descriptions.” Meanwhile, reusable vape products will have until Oct. 1 of this year to include removable batteries and child-proofing mechanisms.

New Zealand is the latest country to ban disposable vapes after the U.K. announced a similar measure in January. And New Zealand’s neighbor Australia has banned the importation of disposable vapes since Jan. 1 amid concerns over widespread teenage use. As of December last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 34 countries had banned e-cigarettes, while 74 countries had no vape regulations in place.

Not all in New Zealand are on board with the country’s new ban, however. A spokesperson for right-wing pressure group New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union warned that banning disposable vapes outright will have a number of adverse effects. “We welcome the proposed changes in relation to harsher penalties and enforcement for those illegally selling vaping products to minors but extending this crackdown to a ban on disposable vapes will simply drive people back towards smoking and encourage a blackmarket of unregulated vaping products as seen in Australia,” Connor Molloy said in a statement posted on X. “This ban will simply [make] it harder and more expensive to quit smoking, instead encouraging people to remain or revert to smoking, or to consume black market vaping products where the risks are completely unknown.”

The WHO has argued that vapes are “not shown to be effective for quitting tobacco use at the population level” and urged governments worldwide to ban their sale to all ages or implement measures that would dissuade the public, particularly children, from using them.

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New Zealand is the latest country to crack down on single-use e-cigarettes in a bid to curb smoking, especially among minors. 

 

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Uncategorized, News Desk, overnight 

Health – TIME 

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